‘The Suicide Squad’: Rick Flag ‘Was a Sacrificial Lamb,’ Says Director

The Suicide Squad brought in new characters (like Idris Elba’s Bloodsport) and familiar ones (Rick Flag, played by Joel Kinnaman) to the DCEU. James Gunn’s movie premiered in theaters and HBO Max on August 5, 2021. The action-packed supervillain film is a sequel to the original Suicide Squad from David Ayers.

Many fans believe the new version is an improvement. This includes the change in direction for the character Colonel Rick Flag. In fact, some were so impressed with the new persona that they were stunned he died in the film. Some felt Kinnaman was strong enough to carry another Suicide Squad installment. So what happened?

What happened to Colonel Rick Flag in ‘The Suicide Squad’?

Suicide Squad members Joel Kinnaman, Idris Elba and John Cena stand in front of an upside down truck
L-R: Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Idris Elba as Bloodsport, and John Cena as Peacemaker in ‘The Suicide Squad’ | Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics

The Suicide Squad marked Gunn’s directorial debut in the DC Extended Universe. Having worked in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans were excited to see what the Guardians of the Galaxy director would bring to the table. Many preferred the film to Ayer’s Suicide Squad, but disappointed by Flag’s demise.

In the film, Flag and Harley Quinn appear to be the lone survivors from their team on a mission to a South American country. Flag joins up with the other Task Force X team, led by Bloodsport. He works with them — that is, until Peacemaker reveals his own secret mission. He ends up killing Flag.

“Rick Flag is definitely different in this movie, and that was a choice on the part of me,” Gunn told Entertainment Tonight. The acclaimed director explained, “Flag really becomes, in a way, part of the heart of this film.” He continued, saying, “He believes in what he’s doing. He is, you know, America’s hero.”

Kinnaman claims the new and improved version of Flag is “a little less cynical of the world and a little more idealistic.”

Gunn claims Rick was a sacrifice to Waller

Gunn prepared his audience for deaths among the main cast. There were plenty in the first few moments alone. However, Rick Flag’s The Suicide Squad death hit him especially hard. Gunn admitted as such during a watch party on Twitter.

“Rick’s death kills me. I tear up all the time when watching it,” Gunn tweeted. He pushed to make it more graphic and definitive, adding, “I wanted people to see very clearly this was actual death.”

However, not everyone was on Rick’s side throughout the film. “Did Rick know what was going to go down in the first 15 minutes of this film? If so, still a bad guy,” Gunn was asked regarding the suicide mission that killed his original teammates. But Gunn set the record straight there.

“No. He was a sacrificial lamb to [Task Force X director Amanda] Waller just like the rest of them,” Gunn clarified. “I definitely don’t consider him a bad guy in the least.”

What Kinnaman said about his controversial death scene

Clearly, Waller didn’t have an issue getting rid of Flag. After he discovered the truth about the project, he threatens to reveal the secret. And Waller (Viola Davis) gives Peacemaker the order to kill Flag.

Kinnaman told The Hollywood Reporter that he reinvented his character in the 2021 version of The Suicide Squad to align with Gunn’s vision. The For All Mankind actor admitted, “Pretty early on, I decided I was not going to treat it like a continuation of what I did before.”

In regard to being killed off, he said, “It’s always sad to go, but I thought it was pretty brilliant of James because it raises the stakes while being very surprising.” Kinnaman added, “It serves as a poignant and weighty moment for this film.”

Flag will be missed in further installments of The Suicide Squad. Kinnaman expressed, “Even though I’ve died many times in movies, there was something special about this one.” The veteran actor said, “I sensed that the film was really going to be something special. And even when I read it in the script, it felt like such an important moment in the film.”

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